The Midland RailwayStudy Centre

November 2020 update

It has been an exciting and productive week as the move back to the Silk Mill has started. There is of course much more to do, but for anyone who is interested in our progress back to full operation, here is an update on what has happened so far.

Thanks to some tremendous work by the guys from B.E.Webbe of Derby and the Derby Museum staff, over a period of two days the contents of all our cabinets from the temporary site have been moved back to the Silk Mill, into a staging area immediately outside the new Study Centre. Meanwhile, we got to have our first look in the new Study Centre and there’s only one word for it; Wow! Most of the fixtures are now in situ. They are a combination of bought-in shelving and bespoke cabinets constructed in the Silk Mill workshop by the incredible team of professional makers and volunteers who are learning the craft. All the racking and shelves have been designed using a technique called parameteric design which ensures every little of bit of space is used to best effect in storing our boxes of documents and ephemera.

As for the rest of the Silk Mill, the display panels are in the process of being installed, and the Civic Hall — despite still being worked on — is stunning. The Railways Revealed Gallery is being populated with the information panels and all our “must see” material to be displayed there has been located and is ready to go in. In the same area, though not something we are involved with, reconstruction of the model railway is progressing well.

Here are a few images to give a flavour of what the new Midland Railway Study Centre looks like....

Two doors with glazed panels allowing a peek inside

Here we are standing in what will become the Museum of Making's Learning Space where education visits will be hosted. We can peek through the glass into the Study Centre store. The archway on the right will be used as a display cabinet to show of some of the more eye-catching pieces in the collection.

Empty steel racking either side with a view of a steel staircase ahead.

As we step inside the store area of the Study Centre we glimpse the steel staircase ahead which takes us up to the Reading Room. The racking either side of this view will soon be packed with boxes and boxes containing our document collection.

Large steel racks

As much of our collection of framed and glazed material as possible will be mounted on walls around the Museum of Making where they can be appreciated by all who visit the building. These items range from signal box diagrams to platform timetables and lots of publicity material. Those items which, due to their nature or condition, don't lend themselves to display will be stored in this fixture.

a steel staircase

The staircase has been specially fabricated for the space but is not completely finished in this view. It is yet to be prepped, primed and lacquered, ending up with a dark protective finish which allows the metal to show through. The wall behind the stairs will be home to the Bradford bar mirror which visitors to the old Study Centre will remember dominated the reading room.

A wooden enclosure containing a dumbwaiter

As the store area of the Study Centre is on a different level to the new Reading Room, a rope-worked dumbwaiter has been installed to avoid the risk inherent in carrying boxes up and down the stairs.

We see the top of the stairs in a room which is still being worked on by trades people

We have ascended to the Reading Room and are looking back at the top of the stairs. The space now occupied by the step ladders will soon host the Midland Railway Society's library, housed in bookshelves constructed to make full use of the angle of the ceiling.

A room with a pitched ceiling and a skylight

Employing an inspired design idea of creating a mezzanine in what would otherwise be unusable space in the eaves of this end of the building, the Reading Room is surprisingly spacious. Three workstation on each side will leave a central circulation area. The unavoidable difference in level to the Railways Revealed Gallery outside the Study Centre's main entrance will be mitigated by the provision of a portable ramp for visitors with reduced mobility.

An empty drawer is open within a new plan chest unit

Before we leave this short tour of the Study Centre, let's take the time to examine the quality of the work which has gone into creating these fixtures for us. This is one of the dozens of plan chest drawers which will be filled with everything from two chain plans to posters to General Arrangement drawings of locomotives and rolling stock.

A large space nearly filled with stack and stacks of boxes

Finally for this November 2020 update, this is the result of two days of work in moving our material out of one of the pair of temporary storage sites, ready to be installed in the racks and drawers we have just been looking at. This will be December's task!

We hope you have enjoyed this brief look behind the scenes of what is happening to reopen the Midland Railway Study Centre. All-in-all, the Museum of Making is slowly but very surely emerging from its disguise as a building site and we can't wait to welcome you all to see it in person from this coming Spring.